How did you get started in mosaics?
Seven years ago I started dabbling with a mosaic house number for our holiday shack. Obviously my four daughters didn’t think much of my attempts and for my birthday they booked me into a studio called ‘Workshed Mosaics’ in Western Australia, where I did my first mosaic project. Paul and Lisa Petale were fantastic teachers and got me off on to a good start.
I feel so blessed that my girls exposed me to this wonderful medium. I am forever grateful to them.
My first mosaic is still hanging on the wall of our holiday house and it’s pretty gross. I have improved somewhat thankfully!!
How long have you been doing mosaics?
I have been doing mosaics for 7 years. I am passionate about it and mosaic whenever I have a spare moment. In a month I am retiring and we are building a new house with my own mosaic shed/studio. Can’t wait to get to work on all the ideas I have in my head.
It’s just something I love. There are so many different colours and designs – opaque and translucent, glass tiles, brilliant metallic’s, cool and expensive marble, fabulously coloured smalti or broken ceramics. I love the designing aspect and working out what tiles to use, the buying of tiles, the sorting of tiles then putting it altogether. I love every aspect and feel am totally happy when I am working on a project.
I also love fossicking for tiles and materials at second hand shops, tips, roadside collection, old abandoned houses and my family and friends are always giving me treasures. Even the grandchildren bring little gifts that they think I may be able to use.
How have your other interests, hobbies, career influenced your mosaics?
I have worked in many art forms – drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery and lead lighting. These past pursuits have helped me greatly with the whole process of making a mosaic.
How or what inspires you?
Lots of things inspire me.
I live in a seaside town and get inspiration from the coastline, houses on the canals, nature, birds, sunsets, plants and gardens. I am always inspired by visits to Art galleries and exhibitions and also paintings and mosaics on the internet.
What makes your work unique from everyone else’s?
I’m not sure if my work is so unique but I do hand paint some of my own tiles to include in some mosaic projects. I buy large greenware tiles and either paint the whole tile and then have it glazed etc and then smash the tile or I cut the tile into whatever size tiles I need and paint, glaze and have them fired. This is something I really enjoy doing.
I also had two opportunities to be invited as an ‘Artist in Residence’ at two schools in the Northern Territory. The first one was at Gawa Christian School on Elcho Island, a very remote Island off the coast of Arnhem Land. My brief was to teach 60 indigenous students to mosaic and to teach the community members living in Gawa, Nanginburra and Ban’thula. Three large panels were designed by the local Yolnu artists. It was wonderful to see traditional aboriginal art being created using a totally new medium.
The second School was in Nhulunbuy a remote mining town in Arnhem Land. This time my brief was somewhat larger in that I had to teach 200 students from the age of 4 to 16. The students made trivets, stepping stones, ply cut outs and the older students made a huge panel 1.2m x 6 metres. I also ran a class for 11 adults. The work they produced was amazing especially as they had never done mosaics before; this was such a highlight for me as I know that many of them will continue with this art form.
What is the strangest thing you have ever mosaiced?
I would love to mosaic strange things but haven’t had the time to do so.
Whose work mosaics or otherwise do you most admire?
Gustav Klimpt, Elaine Goodwin, Irina Charny, Kaffee Bassett, Elizabeth De’Ath, Gordan Mandich, , Laurel Skye, Laura Rendlen, and many more.
Do you sell your work?
Yes and no. I have had commissions from family and friends and end up doing the work for cost only as it’s a hobby and not my source of income yet.
What I would love to do once I retire is run small classes for mentally challenged people or people who are troubled in life. If time permits I would like to do some projects and sell them rather than do commissions.
What advice would you have for other mosaic artists?
Many novices say to me they cannot design a piece of work and feel that their work is inferior because they have not designed it themselves. I always tell them that if it gives them pleasure and satisfaction keep at it because you can never copy of piece of work exactly and will always put your own ideas into the project. Generally once you have done a few projects you will find that you will come up with your own ideas and if not why worry!!!